By W. Homer Axford
Today’s column will be dedicated to analyzing the stunning testimony that City employee and former Davis campaign lieutenant P.J. Leonard gave to the City Council last week. One weekly column and an Election Day special will cover our unfinished business before the November election.
It seems Jimmy Davis and company picked a fight with the wrong guy.
P.J. Leonard is a stand up guy. He’s a tough and street-smart political operative — and that is what led Davis to seek his help. Contrast him with DeMarco, who is literally the antonym of Leonard. No street smarts there. DeMarco is an underhanded guy who operates in a surreptitious manner. The two are like night and day.
It was bound to happen: Leonard and DeMarco butting heads. For months now, Mayor Davis has tried to keep the peace between the two, but it all boiled over at this month’s City Council meeting and Leonard exposed what we had feared was going on all along: widespread corruption, waste, incompetence, and flat-out abuse of City resources for personal gain.
We have watched Leonard’s testimony over and over, and you can watch it again if you’d like (seen below). A few major revelations could spell major trouble and possible criminal charges for Davis, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, the City Council, and the Administration.
Leonard starts off by saying Davis promised him a job before even taking office. Promising someone a job for campaign work or favors is against state and federal campaign finance laws. But, really, that is the least of the campaign finance crimes that Leonard brings to light. The more serious matter is the one Leonard mentions as a cash donation in excess of $5,000 given to Davis via DeMarco. Leonard claims that these donations were unreported to NJELEC. Either way, they far surpass the cash limit allowed by state and local finance laws. Davis has an open investigation into his campaign finances currently, and this will surely add some ammunition for those state agents. Many thought that Davis brought in a ton of illegal money in the 2014 municipal race, but no one could prove it…until now.
The more troubling detail is that the company who gave the illegal donations received a lucrative city contract. We can’t keep count of how many laws Leonard claims Davis and company broke up until this point, but the flat-out disregard for the taxpaying citizens of the City of Bayonne and the sheer abuse of Davis and DeMarco using City Hall as their own personal piggy bank is the most appalling to us.
Leonard points out all sorts of examples of Pay to Play going on at City Hall. The Mayor and the City Council were asked on numerous occasions about the Mayor’s relationship with Jeff Meyer. The council shrugged and said they didn’t know the guy, but Leonard exposes that as a lie, too: not only do they know him, they gave his company a City contract. Leonard went into detail about the many City contracts that were given to connected law firms and the outright conflicts that Assembly Candidate Nicholas Chiaravalloti is in as he serves as a lawyer for companies who do business with the City.
Leonard exposes that the City used $20,000 of Urban Enterprise Zone money to advertise on a blog website (like Bayonne Local) that operates in North Hudson County. He alleges that DeMarco fed them stories, they printed them, and then they received this money that was earmarked to help struggling Broadway.
The icing on the cake was when Leonard exposed that 3 members of the Bayonne City Council were illegally accepting health benefits from the state. You can’t make this stuff up, but Gary LaPelusa was one of them. You may remember Gary from his previous health benefits scandal. The scandal resulted in the guilty plea and resignation of then Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone. LaPelusa was re-elected on Davis team after the scandal. Fool me once, right? Gullace and Nadrowski claim they didn’t know that accepting the insurance was illegal and tried to blame a City Hall employee for the snafu. Someone knew, they tried to fleece the system, they got caught. We’re sure more about this will come out soon. Needless to say, none of them have made plans to reimburse the taxpayer…and we’re sure they never will.
Welcome to Bayonne City Hall. The count on the broken windmill is $300,000. In case you missed that one, the windmill is broken due to Davis Administration incompetence.
But, this week we found out that number is pretty low compared to everything else that has been going on this past year. Davis and his goons are using City Hall to get whatever they want. As we write this, Davis is in Florida on a developer’s dime for the third time since he took office. What does that mean to you? It means Davis is paying for fancy trips with your tax dollars when he turned around and gave that same developer a tax abatement. Not only are Davis and DaMarco fleecing the city — according to P.J. Leonard, Rob Wondolowski is using his position as a City Director to get property maintenance done for homes his company is selling in Bayonne. You gotta wait until those homes are done to get those services, sorry. All Davis directors make over 100 grand a year, oh and get this, none of the them live here. They spend that money in other towns. Davis gave away the store. No wonder we had a 2.9% tax increase delivered by the same guy (Davis) who said he would lower taxes. What a joke. Davis is systematically destroying this town. He promised to revive Broadway, yet he gave money for Broadway away to repay political favors. He complained about nepotism, yet he then hired his nephew to a high-paying job. He complained about corruption, yet City Hall is corrupted beyond recognition. He complained about cronyism, yet he used his cronies to get two salaries and gave his City Council cronies illegal health benefits. He complained about tax abatements, yet he gave one away for a plane ticket. The list goes on and on. We sincerely feel bad for those who were fooled by this bunch of opportunists and out-of-towners. They stole an election with lies and illegal money, now they are stealing the very soul of Bayonne by selling it off for their personal gain. As P.J. said, “this is the tip of the iceberg.” Keep it coming, P.J., and thank you.